Sunday, September 13, 2009

Badges. . . We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges. . .

Do you remember the big fuss made by Team Obama and Mexico’s incompetent government a couple months back? Remember how all the carnage in Mexico was the result of automatic weapons being sold in the United States and then smuggled across the border to kill policemen? Wanna know the truth? It’s actually kind of scary. Read on. . .

Now at the outset, you know this story is bunk. Indeed, as you will recall from our article on guns, you can no longer buy new automatic weapons in the United States, and getting the older ones is extremely difficult. It’s also very difficult under the law to manufacture semi-automatic weapons that can be converted to full automatic. Not to mention that you can’t buy rockets and other real military hardware at all.

So where is this equipment coming from? Meet Los Zetas.

Who Is Los Zetas?

Mexico, like much of South-Central America, is beset by corruption. Local police are often for sale to the highest bidder. This has allowed various criminal enterprises (drug cartels, crime syndicates, smugglers) to all but turn Mexico in a series of small criminal kingdoms, with any attempt to combat these groups being frustrated by the complicity of local law enforcement.

To solve this problem, Mexico turned to their army. With the help of the United States, Mexico set up an elite anti-crime/counter-insurgency unit that it could send into any part of the country to impose order where the local authorities failed or refused, and to fight these criminal enterprises. This group, called the Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE), was trained in the full range of special forces tactics at Fort Bragg and is equipped with the latest in US special forces hardware. So far so good.

In the late 1990, Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen began recruiting GAFE members to act as protection. His top recruit, Lt. Arturo Guzmán Decena brought with him approximately 30 other GAFE members. They called themselves Los Zetas, for the radio code “Zeta” used by the Mexican military to identify leadership persons.

Upon the arrest of Guillen, Los Zetas set out on their own. Soon enough, they set up camps to train recruits, including ex-federal, state and local police. Eventually, this would increase the number of members in Los Zetas to around 4000 members.

(A rival gang, the Sinaloa Cartel, has established its own version of Los Zetas known as Los Negros.)

Not only does Los Zetas operate at a higher tactical level than local authorities, but they are also extremely well armed (body armor, Kevlar ballistic helmets, a variety of automatic weapons including 50 caliber machine guns, grenade launchers, surface-to-air missiles, helicopters and a variety of explosives), and they make extensive use of wire tapping and cell phone tapping. Apparently, they also often masquerade as federal troops or police, using both federal uniforms and vehicles.

And what does this private army do? They collect debts, secure cocaine supply and trafficking routes, kidnap individuals, perform murder-for-hire, engage in extortion and money-laundering schemes, smuggle humans, and, most importantly, execute rivals. In that regard, they are known for incredible sadism and savagery. One common tactic, for example, involves putting their victim into a barrel of oil and setting the oil on fire -- this is reminiscent of the practice of “tiring” or “necklacing” practiced in Haiti and by the African National Congress in South Africa, where a tire is placed over the victims shoulders, filled with gasoline, and then set on fire.

Los Zetas also is known for monitoring and kidnapping journalists and their families, and they have hired gangs like the Texas Syndicate and MS-13 to carry out contract killings in within the United States. They are suspected in the recent murder of a popular politician and his family, though they deny involvement.

Threat To The Mexican Government

The fight between Los Zetas and the Mexican government has been so intense that many have feared the government would fall. Indeed, in February 2009, Rick Perry called out the National Guard, including armor and air units, “as a preventive measure upon the possible collapse of the Mexican State.”

This followed a year in which:
• In September 2008, Los Zetas members killed eight people and wounded more than 100 by tossing grenades into crowds of people celebrating Mexico’s independence in the city of Morelia.

• In December, eight soldiers were found tortured and decapitated in the resort town of Acapulco. The heads were stuffed in a plastic bag, left outside a shopping center with a note saying: “For every one of us you kill, we are going to kill 10.”

• In July, a group called La Familia, with whom Los Zetas apparently works, dumped the bodies of twelve federal police intelligence agents on a highway in Michoacán.

• At the end of August, a dozen hooded gunmen burst into a drug rehabilitation clinic in Ciudad Juarez, on the Texas border, lined up the patients, and killed eighteen of them. On the same day, another 30 people were executed across Mexico.
Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon removed Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora from office because of concerns that the government is losing this war.

Threat To The United States

Right now, Los Zetas is primarily based in the border region of Nuevo Laredo, though they are believed to operate all along the border and in most parts of the country. There is also evidence that Los Zetas has spread to Texas.

Since late 2006, more than 80 United States law enforcement officers working on the U.S.-Mexico border at the local, state and federal level have been convicted of corruption-related charges, according to an Associated Press tally. They have helped Los Zetas move drugs as far as Delaware.

In August, it was revealed that Los Zetas smuggled $46 million worth of oil stolen from PEMEX into the United States, where it was sold to U.S. refineries using false import documents.

Following a joint investigation titled “Operation Black Jack” by the ATF, DEA, ICE, FBI and Homeland Security, American authorities raided two Los Zetas’s safe houses in Texas, freeing over 40 kidnapped individuals.

On October 26, 2008, the Washington Times reported that the FBI warned Texas law enforcement that Los Zetas had threatened “a full tactical response” should law enforcement interfere with their operations. In response, a leader of Los Zetas was arrested in Reynosa, Tamaulipas (a border city) on November 7, 2008. In that operation, the Mexican Army and Mexican Federal Police seized three safe houses and found 540 assault rifles, 287 grenades, 2 M72 Law rocket launchers, half a million rounds of ammunition, 67 ballistic vests and 14 sticks of dynamite.


So where do these guns that are plaguing Mexico come from? Where else would former military and police officers with deep connections to the Mexican police and military get modern American military hardware of the type provided by the American military to the Mexican military (but not available to average Americans)? Well, if you’re a liberal or journalist, apparently you think they’re buying this hardware from gun stores in Texas.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed before Mexico explodes. It is shameful that Team Obama would not only turn a blind eye, but would falsely try to convert the crisis they should be addressing into an opportunity to make false political points against lawful gun ownership in the United States.


MegaTroll said...

Wow, this is really scary. How do you stop someone like this? Also, why don't we hear about this from the MSM? Thanks for the story. This puts a lot of what's going in perspective.

StanH said...

Barry is the man/boy in the bubble. He knows nothing of the real world but what he was taught in some kind of school, Harvard, Rev. Wright, ACORN (tax advice, ha), Billy Ayers, etc. Think of the dumbest liberal hyperbole and Barry and his school boy administration will regurgitate it. This is why liberals make such poor leaders. They believe that a left handed slap at the 2nd Amendment is the proper answer to the terror in Mexico. In the weak minded liberal groupthink this is the proper response any time a gun is used, in whatever country, and of coarse it’s the fault of the USA. The tool (gun/knife/club) is the problem, not the person. We are in dangerous times my friend.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, it's definitely dangerous times. I think Obama's attempt to turn this into an anti-gun issue has failed because of the sheer level of violence involved. Or we would still be hearing about it.

What really troubles me is that this is one of those things we need to deal with -- like Pancho Villa 100 years ago or Al Capone in Chicago, and I'm not sure that Obama recognizes that or is up to the task.

Fortunately, Rick Perry seems to be up to the task, the only question is if he has the firepower (literally and figuratively) that he needs. Plus, there isn't much he can do on the other side of the border.

AndrewPrice said...

Mega, It is very scary. This is one of those moments you look back upon in 20 years when people are dying here and you say, "why didn't we stop this before it got so big?"

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: The Obama team sure seems to have a real talent for using the wrong crisis, for the wrong reason, in the wrong place.

CrispyRice said...

I agree that this is the kind of thing we look back on in 20 years and wonder why we weren't paying more attention.

I have a friend recently who wanted to go to Cancun. She was told, "You know you're planning to vacation in an active war zone, right?"

Good article, Andrew. I wish I could get this kind of info from the regular media.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - you see to have an alternative occupation as investigative reporter. This is fascinating. Between reading your piece and seeing Chris Burgard's "Border," I get this feeling something really bad will come of this whole Mexican situation. Whether it is illegal aliens, future gang members, drug smugglers, or terrorists, this will sooner or later end badly.

BevfromNYC said...

Texas Gov. Perry has asked Obama several times for help to guard the borders. So far Obama has taken a wait and see position. I just read late last week that Perry has ordered the Texas Rangers (the Chuck Norris-type, not the baseball team)to the border.

AndrewPrice said...

CrispyRice, that's my concern. Is that this is going to blow up, people will die, and then the Democrats will hold hearing to try to figure out how this could have happened without anyone knowing about it or doing anything.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed. It's sad that I have to articles like this. You would think the media would be on top of this. But, probably for political reasons, they ignore it entirely. "Don't want to stir people up about illegal immigration." But that's not what this is about at all. This is about a hostile, private army seizing control of Mexico. This is Afghanistan in our backyard.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Isn't it amazing that Obama could ignore the request of a governor for help? And while I love the Rangers (the cops, not the baseball team), I can't imagine that they can handle this kind of problem is the Mexican military can't. This sound to me like it needs a very serious, big time response. But I guess that would interfere with Obama's domestic agenda. . .

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - sorry if I implied this particular issue was about illegal immigration. I only meant it is a shame, but whenever I think of Mexico or the border anymore, I get an uneasy feeling that something really bad is going to happen and a failed Mexican state is definitely one of them. Huge numbers of "immigrants" into our country who subsequently get cast as victims and potentially greatly impact U.S. voting patterns is another. A potentially worsening access point for terrorists is a third, drug wars a fourth and so on. For numerous reasons, our political leaders do not seem to be willing or able to step up and do much about it so I'm not very optimistic.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, You didn't imply it was about illegal immigration, but I think the media would be afraid that any discussion of problems in Mexico would "upset people" about that issue.

That's why I think the media doesn't discuss it. Seriously, if the Canadian government were on the verge of collapse because it was losing a war against crime cartels, we can be sure that the media would be all over the story.

But since it's Mexico, they don't want to "give any ammunition" to people who don't like open borders.

I agree with you fully, this is bad and it could get so much worse. What happens if these guys do gain a foothold in the American Southwest? Or if Mexico collapses and 20 million Mexican citizens stream North to escape? This could be very bad, and yet it seems that Obama wants to ignore it.

Skinners 2 Cents said...

This is a rather brash idea one fraught with all sorts of potential problems but I think it's time for the US to take over the rest of the world or at least everything in our southern hemisphere. These incredibly powerful cartels pop up in the shadows of freedom and security provided by this nation.

Perhaps it's time to end the war on drugs and start a war with all of South America as well as Cuba so we can finally settle that little debate.

We should move into a full press on all of these tin pot dictators to our south. I know this sounds extreme but our power has been taken advantage of time and time again. We do nothing to stop this insanity. The level of corruption in South America is incredible and frightening. We train people to put a stop to it and they join up with the people they were trained to fight against.

It's either war or some really big walls that are defended by men with high powered rifles so we have close to zero border crossings with out us being aware of them.

The South American countries already have a strangle hold on gangs and drug distribution inside the US. Even our own homegrown motorcycle gang Hell's Angels has backed down to eMe. South American gang members fill our prison and recruit there. We do very little to stop it. Most of the US gangs that you have ever heard of be it Crips, Bloods, Hell's Angels they all pay proceeds to eMe. Discovery has a program call Gangland that goes over this very chilling reality they are already here and they are already in control.

Writer X said...

Pres. Obama should spend a little time with some of the ranchers on the Arizona border. They're just not dealing with impoverished people who only seek to come here for a better life. The crime these ranchers have to deal with is appalling. I know this is slightly off-topic but it really is a full-blown war down there. I know plenty of people (myself included) who've stopped traveling to Mexico for vacation because it's become too dangerous.

AndrewPrice said...

Skinner, I'm not sure that taking over South/Central America would be an easy sell, that's for sure.

I don't know you solve the corruption problem in that part of the world, but its definitely worth trying to find a solution. The problems seem to be cultural as well the fact that so many of their government are predatory when it comes to their own people.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, The problem is definitely spilling over into AZ and Tx, and the rest because your basically dealing with a growing storm of anarchy and desparation, and that's a bad combination.

I'm hearing from more and more people who say they won't visit Mexico again becuase of this problem -- though they don't know exactly what caused the problem.

What's worse for us though, is that this problem is coming North. If these guys get a serious foothold in our country, they can easily bring their violence and chaos here. These guys are much, much worse than the gangs of the 1980s.

AndrewPrice said...

Skinner, (P.S.) I watch Gangland all the time, and your right, these guys are filling our prisons and taking over the street gangs in the US.

And while a lot of people think making drugs legal "would solve this", I first of all don't see it for a lot of reasons, but even more so, they are doing so much more than smuggling drugs. This is a problem that extends to stolen oil, extortion, kidnapping (very big in the Third World and could easily be brought here), contract murder, etc.

This sort of thing needs to be stopped early.

I've always felt prisons are a huge problem in this country because we lump them all together, but that's probably a topic for another post.

Skinners 2 Cents said...

I know that my idea was extreme to put it lightly. I just don't see the US doing much of anything when it comes to protecting our borders. That and a neighborhood sign got tagged by some miscreant. I don't live in a gang neighborhood or what I would have guessed was close to any and yet gang graffiti shows up.

I constantly try and figure out what is going on in these countries that would have such hard working and industrious people leaving it. Why are these countries not moving forward towards better societies. They obviously have or had the work force to do it. Their citizenry is willing to take risks the number of illegals in this country would go to prove that.

Perhaps if I rephrased my idea as bringing the American Dream to all of the America's, people might go for it. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Skinner, I'll tell you what. You're on to something there. I've often wondered, would we not be better off if Mexico could be made more like the United States -- strong rule of law foundation, strong economy.

Would that not solve a great many of our own problems if our neighbor to the south wasn't a better place to live and work?

How to do that is the question?

Anonymous said...

DO you think that we (US - Texas) hold an advantage in this fight as it spills over because we (still) allow gun ownership?

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, I think that against a trained force of up to 4,000 well armed ex-soldiers, average citizens and law enforcement are at a serious disadvantage. Thus, private gun ownership would have little relevance in that type of scenario.

However, I think that allowing private gun ownership -- which is not allowed in Mexico -- has the effect of generally preventing these things from happening in the first place because it allows individuals to protect themselves from predatory individuals and corrupted officials.

It also has the effect of scaring off criminals, who are more interested in finding easy targets.

Right now, I think this remains a law enforcement problem on our side of the border -- and our law enforcement has proven itself remarkably capable of defeating criminal gangs over time.

My bigger concern is what happens if this group gets effective control over Mexico or large parts of Mexico. Then the effects here could be significant and very bad -- a flood of refuges, an unchecked base of power, access to even more equipment and technology. It could be like having a much large Afghanistan (circa 2000) on our border.

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